Energy. Environment. Economy.


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The Marcellus Shale, Explained


Marcellus Shale is a sedimentary rock buried thousands of feet beneath the earth’s surface. It stretches from upstate New York south through Pennsylvania to West Virginia and west to parts of Ohio. Named after a town in upstate New York, the rock itself is millions of years old, formed from mud and organic material. The natural gas created over millions of years as a byproduct of decomposition is trapped in tiny spaces and fissures within the rock. The Marcellus Shale is just one of many shale formations across the world. When industry speaks of tapping shale gas, it often refers to it as a “shale play.” The Marcellus is one of the first shale plays to be tapped, after the Barnett Shale formation in Texas.

Latest Posts

Pennsylvania’s Marcellus Shale drives boost in nation’s proven gas reserves

Nationwide, the amount of gas that producers can afford to get out of the ground, broke records in 2014, topping 388 trillion cubic feet, according to a new report from the Energy Information Administration. A big chunk of these proven natural gas reserves came from Pennsylvania’s operators, who added 10.4 trillion cubic feet of gas to [...]

Tune in to see Pennsylvania’s changing spaces

Pennsylvania’s rich natural resources and attractive river system have made it a hub of industry since its founding in the 1600′s. These industries’ boom-and-bust cycles spurred rapid growth in cities, then just as quickly left those spaces behind. The Keystone Crossroads: Changing Spaces TV special explores communities reinventing themselves, using historic legacies or tapping new resources to [...]

Pipeline Critics, Encouraged by Keystone Decision, Call for Halt to Mariner East 2

Opponents of a plan by Sunoco Logistics to pump natural gas liquids across Pennsylvania renewed their call on Saturday for the company to abandon the project, less than 24 hours after President Obama killed the controversial Keystone XL pipeline project. The critics gathered outside a Sunoco Logistics pumping station in Mechanicsburg to urge the company [...]

Canadian police visited Pennsylvania to learn about fracktivists

Canadian police visited their American counterparts in Williamsport last year to learn more about how to deal with public resistance to shale gas development. After a protest against exploratory seismic testing in Rexton, New Brunswick turned violent, six members of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) took a three-day trip to Williamsport in June 2014, [...]

Sunoco plans to start ethane exports from Marcus Hook by year end

Massive new ships are due to begin carrying refrigerated ethane from Marcus Hook in southeastern Pennsylvania to Europe at the end of the year as Sunoco Logistics completes a plan to pump the gas from western Pennsylvania’s Marcellus Shale to the point where it will have more access to world and local markets. The Philadelphia-based [...]

Pennsylvania Supreme Court to hear more arguments on Act 13

The Pennsylvania Supreme Court has agreed to hear arguments related to its December, 2013 decision regarding the state’s comprehensive update to its oil and gas law, known as Act 13. In an order published this week, the court determined that it would take up several unresolved issues, but it would not revisit its interpretation of [...]

New natural gas plant to replace shuttered coal facility in Snyder County

A private equity firm has announced financing for a new natural gas power plant in central Pennsylvania’s Snyder County, along the west bank of the Susquehanna river. Panda Power, a Texas company, says Goldman Sachs, ICBC, and Investec have invested $710 million, while Siemens Financial Services will provide $125 million in equity to build the [...]

SEPTA looking to power commuter rail with Marcellus Shale gas

SEPTA, the Philadelphia region’s mass transit agency, has proposed a new natural gas power plant to generate energy for part of its regional rail system. The combined heat and power plant will be built in North Philadelphia and serve regional rail lines, as well as a large bus depot. The estimated $26.8 million project would [...]

Study: Shale gas related water contamination top-down, not bottom-up

Contaminants related to shale gas production found in well water in Northeast Pennsylvania likely results from surface spills and leaks, rather than fluid migrating up from fracked wells, according to a new study published this week in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. The study also found a correlation between detectable hydrocarbons and [...]

British MP studies fracking on trip to PA

On a sunny fall morning, Kevin Hollinrake stands with a group of concerned parents across a road from a gas processing plant in Butler County. Trucks come and go as workers hustle to expand the Bluestone processing plant, which will separate different types of natural gas from locally drilled wells for market. Hollinrake has come [...]

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